PASTEUR4OA/PASTEUR4OA Meeting of National Experts | Working Together to Promote Open Access Policy Alignment in Europe

On 2-3 December 2014, the PASTEUR4OA project hosted a Europe-wide meeting of national experts to promote Open Access (OA) policy alignment in Europe.

The meeting brought together PASTEUR4OA project partners and members of the recently set up Knowledge Net that represent a wide variety of stakeholders – universities, research funders, libraries, associations and networks – from across 33 European countries. Three issues were among the top priorities of the meeting’s agenda:

▪        Revisiting the Horizon 2020 (H2020) OA mandate, situating OA policy developments in Europe and within the global context, and learning from the best practices in OA policy development and implementation at the national, funder and institutional levels;

▪        Discussing the importance of aligning national OA policies with the H2020 OA mandate;

▪        Promoting OA policy alignment at the national level and facilitating coordination at the pan-European level through the Knowledge Net.


About the Meeting

What’s going on at the European level?

The Guidelines on Open Access to Scientific Publications and Research Data in Horizon 2020 were adopted in December 2013, requiring researchers funded by H2020 to deposit peer-reviewed publications in repositories and to ensure open access to the publications whilst also encouraging researchers to deposit the research data that validate the publications results.


Why is the H2020 OA mandate important?

Key objectives of the H2020 OA mandate include promoting free open access to peer-reviewed publications and data through deposit in repositories and advising European countries to develop their OA policies ‘on the basis of the same principles’.


Alma Swan, PASTEUR4OA partner leading research on OA policy analysis, emphasised that OA policy alignment across European countries is key to:


▪       Enable researchers working in interdisciplinary areas or in international teams to comply with a single OA policy rather than with multiple and often divergent policies;

▪        Facilitate interdisciplinary research and harmonisation of practices among different academic disciplines;

▪        Enable researchers mobility across the European Research Area (ERA);

▪        Support the European Union (EU) harmonisation agenda and promote common practices and norms;

▪        Implement generic infrastructural services;

▪        Accelerate scientific research, technological progress and

social well-being.


Furthermore, the EU has strongly recommended Member States (MS) to:

▪        Develop policies on OA;

▪        Ensure consistency between H2020 OA policy and those of MS;

▪        Promote coordination at EU level;

▪        Report on progress at MS and EU level;

▪        Establish multi-stakeholder dialogue.


What is PASTEUR4OA working towards?

Following coordinated efforts at the EU level to develop an OA policy, it has been acknowledged that further work is required to promote OA policy development and alignment at the national level. Victoria Tsoukala, PASTEUR4OA Project Coordinator, stressed the importance of PASTEUROA’s work in expediting understanding and awareness about OA, in facilitating aligned OA policy development especially at the institutional and research funder levels, and in setting a pan-European network committed to promote OA policy implementation and alignment.


Of significant importance was the recognition that European countries experience different challenges and that PASTEUR4OA is striving to overcome these challenges. Victoria Tsoukala emphasised that there are different levels of progress in European countries at the level of OA policy development and implementation. Lack of awareness about OA among policymakers is a reality and OA may not be a priority for policymakers in some European countries. Moreover, lack of information on policy effectiveness may still be acting as a strong barrier to the further development and alignment of OA policies across Europe.


Accordingly, PASTEUR4OA proposes to:

▪        Perform OA policies analysis, measure OA policies effectiveness and identify policy-related gaps to provide evidence based arguments;

▪        Potentiate a network of national centres of expertise – the Knowledge Net – that collaboratively monitor and champion an aligned OA policy environment across Europe;

▪        Facilitate coordinated action in OA policy development in MS and neighbouring countries;

▪        Engage with and inform policymakers at the national level about the EU’s OA policy and infrastructure;

▪      Liaise with related projects and activities to promote coordinated and joint efforts in advancing OA policy development and alignment.

Ultimately, PASTEUR4OA will contribute to the coordination of OA policies across Europe, to address specific needs at the national level, and to support the Knowledge Net’s Key Nodes role in advancing the OA policy alignment agenda in the foreseeable future.


What is the role of the Knowledge Net?

The Knowledge Net is a pioneer network that brings together 33+ Key Node organisations from across Europe to transfer knowledge, disseminate information and advocate for OA policy development, implementation and alignment across Europe.


Eloy Rodrigues, PASTEUR4OA partner leading the development of the Knowledge Net, explained the rationale behind the development of the Knowledge Net. This is linked to the recognition that specific problems exist across Europe and that the Knowledge Net can help address them. In particular, that there are:

▪        Disparate levels of OA awareness, activities, infrastructures and policies;

▪        Lack of alignment/consistency of OA policies;

▪        Lack of coordination between OA initiatives, infrastructures and organisations.







As a result, the Knowledge Net aims to:

▪        Facilitate coordinated activities that monitor and champion an aligned OA policy environment across Europe;

▪        Promote engagement with policymakers at the national level;

▪        Disseminate advocacy materials that report the evidence base on the reasons for and benefits of OA;

▪        Promote coordinated work among the Key Node organisations and the European Commission into the future and after the PASTEUR4OA project ends.

To advance this agenda, PASTEUR4OA and the Knowledge Net will work jointly in delivering workshops for research funders and institutions in 2015 which will highlight the progress made towards OA policy development, the importance of good policy making, and the need to align OA policy across Europe in agreement with the H2020 mandate. Advocacy materials such as the collection of national case studies will continue to be produced to address knowledge gaps on OA policy developments. These will be disseminated among policymakers and shared with communities involved in or impacted by scholarly communications issues.

Clearly remarked by Eloy Rodrigues, and later discussed in work groups discussions, was the need to consider the sustainability of the Knowledge Net in the longer-term and to further advance discussions on this aspect.


Are there examples of best practices in implementing institutional and research funders OA policies?

Across Europe there are a number of cases where OA policies have been developed and implemented at the national, research funders and universities levels that have not only been successful in promoting an increase in the numbers of peer-reviewed articles available on open access but that are also aligned with the H2020 OA policy.


Niamh Brennan, presented a case study on Ireland and illustrated how Ireland has succeeded in implementing national (National Principles for Open Access Statement, 2012), institutional (e.g. Trinity College Dublin, 2010) and research funders OA policies (e.g. Health Research Board, 2014; Irish Research Council, 2013). In Ireland’s case, the reform of the Higher Education agenda and the drive to rebuild its ‘innovative knowledge-based economy’ increased the visibility and necessity to embrace OA. Ireland has learned from the policy, best practice and technical elements of larger countries to develop its OA policies.


Nina Karlstrøm, introduced the Norwegian case study and showed that Norway has a strong research basis with strong scholarly communications resources. Norway has a national Current Research Information Systems (CRIS), a national research council (Norwegian Research Council, NRC), a national harvester of repositories (Norwegian Open Research Archives, NORA), a consortium for repositories covering 60 institutions, and a shared library system covering more than 100 academic libraries. Norway has strong OA policy at the national (White Paper on Research, 2012-2013) and research funder’s (Norwegian Research Council, 2009) levels. The policies are aligned with the H2020 mandate. It is at the institutional level, however, that an increase in OA policies is necessary and that policies need to be harmonised and aligned with the H2020 mandate.


Bernard Rentier, presented the case of the University of Liege, Belgium, which has an OA policy since 2007 and an institutional repository (ORBi) since 2008. The University of Liege OA policy is mandatory. Compliance with the University’s policy is required and deposit of peer-reviewed articles in ORBi is a prerequisite in the internal research evaluation process. Researchers can not only deposit peer-reviewed articles in ORBi but also periodicals, book chapters, speeches, reports and other resources. The levels of compliance regarding deposit of peer-reviewed articles in ORBi was of 86% in 2013 and is expected to reach 90% in 2014. The total full text downloads from ORBi surpassed 1 million between 1 January and 31 November 2014. As Bernard Rentier referred, compliance with the University’s OA policy has been highly successful. This has had direct benefits in increasing the levels of readership and citations, in developing new metrics, in improving reporting and in increasing institutional visibility.   

By and large, it is a model where national, institutional and research funders OA policies are implemented and aligned with the H2020 mandate that the PASTEUR4OA and the Knowledge Net are determined to promote. Drawing on cases of best practice where European national, institutional and research funders OA policies have been successfully adopted, stakeholders from across Europe can learn from these examples and draw inspiration from them to develop their own OA policies. It is the aspiration that national, funders and institutional OA policies will be implemented across Europe in the near future that drives the goals of PASTEUR4OA and the Knowledge Net. Ultimately, it is the aspiration that harmonised agendas will advance the EU’s innovation strategy, facilitate researchers’ mobility, encourage inter-disciplinary research, and advance economic and social well-being across Europe that are major drivers for open access.


What role for the Knowledge Net?

A voting exercise and work groups sessions were key to explore the ways in which the Knowledge Net will succeed in achieving its mission. PASTEUR4OA partners and Key Nodes engaged in group discussions to think of ways to tackle challenges and to consider how the Knowledge Net can support them in overcoming those challenges. At the voting exercise, the challenge that has been considered to be the priority for the Knowledge Net to address is to look into ways to maintain and sustain effective coordination at the national and EU levels. At the second work groups session, participants looked at factors that will determine if the Knowledge Net will have succeeded in five years by considering what the Knowledge Net will have to do to succeed and what role the Key Nodes will have to perform to ensure that the Knowledge Net meets its objectives. The factors considered by the work groups to ensure the success of the Knowledge Net focused on two core areas. The first related to the areas in which the Knowledge Net will focus its work on. For instance, in promoting policy making, advocacy, compliance, coordination, awareness raising as well as supporting the development and adoption of common metrics and infrastructure. The second related to thinking about the sustainability, structure and management model of the Knowledge Net which will be key to ensure its long-term operation.


Figure 5 – PASTEUR4OA partners and Key Nodes at the meeting.



Next Steps

The next steps for the PASTEUR4OA project partners and the Key Nodes are to:

▪        Refine the mission, outcomes and goals of the Knowledge Net

▪        Refine the programme for the workshops to be held with national funders and institutions across five regions in Europe

▪        Develop advocacy materials to inform OA policy alignment at the national level

▪        Disseminate the results of the OA policies analysis research work




PASTEUR4OA Meeting of National Experts Programme (pdf)

Evidence that Europe is Leading Open Access Implementation, Alma Swan (pdf)

PASTEUR4OA: Exploring the Co-ordination of Open Access Strategies, Activities and Policies across Europe, Victoria Tsoukala (pdf)

PASTEUR4OA: The Knowledge Net, Eloy Rodrigues (pdf)

Member States Open Access Policy Alignment with H2020, Alma Swan (pdf)

Case Study: Ireland, Niamh Brennan (pdf)

Case Study: Norway, Nina Karlstrøm (pdf)

Case Study, Belgium (ORBi), Bernard Rentier (pdf)